Thursday, February 22, 2018

Discover The Adventure: Have You Discovered the Treasure Beyond the Fuzzy ...

Discover The Adventure: Have You Discovered the Treasure Beyond the Fuzzy ...: Before LASIK surgery at age forty, severe nearsightedness blinded my vision without corrective lenses. I only saw an advantage to this cond...

Have You Discovered the Treasure Beyond the Fuzzy Orbs?

Before LASIK surgery at age forty, severe nearsightedness blinded my vision without corrective lenses. I only saw an advantage to this condition at Christmas when the tree went up with its strings of colorful bulbs. Without vision aids at night, the lights on the tree appeared as fuzzy orbs, blending together in a dazzling display of color. To be honest, I was hypnotized by it.
      Yet my distorted vision kept me from seeing more extraordinary treasures around the tree. With my lenses in place, I discovered ornaments friends and family had given us, invoking dear memories of people I loved. I found ornaments my husband and I had collected from places we’d visited around the world, summoning fond remembrances of our years together. I observed the Christ child in the manager, centering my focus on the truth of Christmas. Letting go of my distorted vision and putting on my lenses showed me the beauty, wonder, and joy beyond the fuzzy orbs.
     Like my blurred vision, writers of faith can be hypnotized by the fuzzy things of this temporal world, but those things are mere shadows or distortions of the extravagance God has lavished on us in Christ. Donning our corrective lenses allows us to view our writing journey in perspective. First and foremost, corrective lenses enable us to see the light of God’s promise of true joy today as well as the astonishing beauty and wonder of the future to come even if our journey as writers contains bumps in the road along the way.
     Then we understand that what we write doesn’t merely revolve around our own little worlds but requires us to reach beyond to something more extraordinary. We demand more of ourselves by continually honing our craft, accepting constructive criticism, and throwing away the chaff. We search for unique ways to tell our stories and entice our audience to embark on the journey of discovery with us. We dare to embrace the world of marketing our work in spite of timidity and self-consciousness. Yet we adjure ourselves to forgo foolish pride and go about the journey in humility and faith.
     Only by letting go of our distorted vision can we experience the treasures beyond the world of the fuzzy orbs. I invite you to fix your eyes on the prize that is set before you as you experience the world beyond the fuzzy orbs.

Post Script: I also invite you to visit my updated website at to get a preview of my newest book, Undaunted Valor.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Discover The Adventure: Lessons Learned from Rejection

Discover The Adventure: Lessons Learned from Rejection: I will always remember the drizzly day I ambled Emily Brontë’s heather-dressed moors at age seventeen. As an American student in the Uni...

Lessons Learned from Rejection

I will always remember the drizzly day I ambled Emily Brontë’s heather-dressed moors at age seventeen. As an American student in the United Kingdom writing a thesis on Wuthering Heights, my romantic spirit soared, savoring my chance encounter with an old gent, sporting a cap and a cane, whose family had known the Brontës. The experience sealed my desire to write.
          The first time an editor solicited a manuscript I had pitched, my heart danced. I knew it would be accepted and become a best seller. I’d be another Emily Brontë. Months later, I received a rejection letter in the mail with constructive notes and the editor’s good wishes. I felt crushed and never implemented the changes.
           Over the years, I’ve sold personal essays, short stories and devotionals. Two years ago, after an unsuccessful run with an agent, I self-published my first Christian suspense, Light Out of Darkness, which will see a reprint at the end of March along with the publication of the sequel Undaunted Valor on April 4th.  You will hear more about that in the coming weeks.
          In spite of modest success, rejection has often made me think about giving up this seemingly hopeless cause. In time, I realized the onus was on me to hone my craft, never to be complacent about my work, to accept constructive criticism and throw out the chaff.  
          Most important, I learned my value as a person doesn’t depend on whether my work gets accepted. I am much more than my writing. As a person of faith, my worth comes from God, not glory or fame. I write to bring people with me on a journey of joy, wonder and discovery. If I’ve touched one heart, if one morsel of truth encourages a soul, then I’ve done my job. I may not be Emily Brontë, but I wasn’t meant to be, and that’s honestly okay with me.
          The greatest advice I can give beginning authors is this: never stop learning your craft, but always remember where your worth as a person comes from.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Karen Van Den Heuvel Debut Thriller Heats Up with Drama and Danger

I'm pleased to introduce debut thriller author and friend Karen Van Den Heuvel. Karen's diverse experiences as an attorney, certified civil mediator, Registered Dietitian, teacher, speaker, and published author with more than 20 years experience in the corporate, government, and private sectors have fueled her desire to assist people live fuller, richer lives. She desires to help people add spice to their lives whether it is through her romantic suspense novels or through her nutrition and health blog. With two grown children, one in medical school, and the other in graduate school, Karen lives with her husband, Joe Fischer, in Colorado. Her debut romantic suspense novel, Hidden Bloodlines, was released in July. It is the first in The J.C. Classified Series. 

1. What is the genre of your book? How did you choose the genre?
My book is a romantic suspense thriller.  I believe most writers choose the genre they enjoy reading. I love suspense, thrillers, and mysteries with a bit of romance. Although not heavy on the romance, it was enough for a traditional publisher who only publishes romance to want it.

2. How is your protagonist the same/different from you?
It’s best to write what you know, and as an attorney, I chose to make my protagonist a lawyer. The difference is with the areas we practice. My protagonist is a criminal lawyer while I am a civil lawyer who teaches Business Law at the university. Personality wise, my protagonist is inspired by my daughter, Victoria.

3. What/who inspires you when you feel writer’s block coming on?
When I feel writer’s block coming on, I pray, walk, and change the physical location of where I write. I like to go where there is no cell phone or internet reception in a natural setting that reminds me of the power of God. Prior to the 2013 flood, I regularly wrote in Viestenz-Smith Mountain Park next to the rushing river. Since the flood, I’ve tried new places but always seek God’s place.

4. What advice would you like to give aspiring writers?
Learn from those who went before you and develop your craft. Write, revise, and keep revising until it’s the best you can do. Then follow your dreams and never give up.

5. Did you have to do much research on the background of your story?
I believe that research is critical to make any book believable and the research I did was quite extensive. From the history behind the Dark Sacrament and real cases of exorcisms to the location, inspired by the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, its legendary ghost stories as well as the Ute Indians and their vision quests, research was the foundation on which my story was created.


Gutsy Colorado attorney Victoria Bailey has just successfully prosecuted a serial killer…or has she? Betrayed by her college sweetheart, she’s vowed to remain single and dependent on no one but herself. All goes according to plan until her best friend’s wedding rehearsal. A missing groom, a murdered trial assistant, and an unexpected encounter with two men from her past bring her well-controlled life crashing down.

Highly decorated, retired Navy SEAL Christian Van der Kruis has seen much death and is ready to experience a new life. Now part of a global special ops organization, he attends a wedding, never expecting to be brought face-to-face with death and the only woman he ever loved … Victoria.

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Friday, December 23, 2016

Pamela Trawick's Debut Novel An Inspirational Story

     From time to time, a book comes along that has the ability to touch our hearts and warm our spirits. I’m extremely pleased and excited to tell you about debut novel Walking Between The Stones by good friend and award winning author Pamela Trawick. A woman of rare wit and talent, Pamela Trawick’s style is compelling and has won the endorsement of many colleagues.
     Lisa Wingate, bestselling author of The Prayer Box has said of Pamela’s work, “In parts, tender sweet and funny, Walking Between The Stones offers up a cast of characters you’ll enjoy getting to know and a heartfelt examination of the power of love and the meaning of family.”
     USA Today bestselling author, Susan May Warren has said, “A beautifully written poignant story about marriage, tragedy, what happens when your worst fears take over…and the power of true love. A wonderful debut by a talented author!
     Jane Choate, author of The Little Witness says, “Pamela Trawick’s debut novel Walking Between the Stones is a winner in every way. Beautifully drawn characters fill a poignant story of forgiveness, healing, and most of all, love. Trawick reminds us that love is to be cherished and that it can indeed conquer all when we invite the Lord into our lives. 5 Stars!

Pamela has agreed to answer five questions about her own life and novel.

1.   What is the genre of your book? How did you choose the genre?
Walking Between the Stones is women’s fiction.  I’m not sure that I chose the genre or that it chose me, but after I watched my neighbors dealing with their own and their loved ones’ dementia, I knew this was a story I had to write.

2.  How is your protagonist the same/different from you?
While Willie Joe and Dory-Ann aren’t like me in terms of their appearance or their personalities, I share one characteristic with them: I talk to my dog.  Like Miss Pixie and Tick, Daisy is an important part of my family.

3.   Tell us something about yourself that we might not expect?
My first ever plane flight was from Arkansas to Germany.  And, no, it wasn’t on a vacation.  I moved to Germany for a job.  How’s that for an adventure?  The experience became the foundation for my first published devotion, “Beauty’s All Around,” which was part of Big Dreams from Small Spaces. 

4.  What secret about the book will enhance our knowledge about you or the book?
Many times when an author begins a book, she has a message she wants to share with readers. When I began Walking Between the Stones three years ago, I never thought that the message would be for me. I began the story by challenging Willie Joe with a fear of Alzheimer’s, but before the book was published, I was dealing with my own cognitive problems. Now when I reread the book, particularly the opening scenes, I see myself doing many of the things Willie Joe does.

5.  Did you have to do much research on the background of your story?
Oh, yes.  While the basic concept came from observing my neighbors, I needed to learn everything I could about dementia, its causes, its symptoms, and its possible cures.  I was very fortunate to have a writing friend who’s also a doctor.  Many thanks go to Dr. Marsha Henke for sharing her medical knowledge with me.

Pamela Trawick draws on her years as an attorney, specializing in family law and estate planning and her parents’ experience battling cancer and ALS, to craft a story of a couple traversing the rocky terrain of emotions and challenges tied to aging. Her books have been finalists in numerous contests, and Walking Between the Stones won the 2014 Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Contest for best contemporary novel. Pamela lives in San Jose, California, with her husband and their only slightly spoiled Westie.

They had the perfect marriage.  At least she thought they did…
The day before their fortieth anniversary celebration in their small Arkansas hometown, Willie Joe Lankton tells Dory-Ann he must leave. Embarrassed by his disappearance, she makes excuses to her friends and family about her husband’s location. Heartbroken and frightened, she tries to track him down, but Willie Joe doesn’t answer or return her calls.

Willie Joe Lankton, has a lifetime of experience repairing vehicles, however, he may have made a mistake when a young man is killed in an accident while driving a truck he just repaired. Suffering from memory lapses he believes are signs of Alzheimer’s, Willie Joe flees to the western states so as not to burden Dory-Ann. A troubled journey, pride, and fear keep them apart until God's plans are revealed.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What are You Willing to Do to Gain the World?

For the average person, the political season brings up a whole host of emotions, mostly negative. We view politics as a necessary evil imposed on our lives for a time, and then wave a sigh of relief when it’s over. This sentiment is understood. But what do we do with it?

Most of us despise the rhetoric, the slanderous accusations and the all-pervasive malicious mentality of even some of our closest friends and family. Friendships are won and lost by which side of the aisle we sit on. For this reason, we steer away from conversations that might require us to state our convictions. Be the peacemaker, don’t rock the boat, right? After all, in a little while, all this negativism will go away, and it will be back to business as usual without anyone finding out what is really on our minds and hearts. Phew—saved by our silence! 

Or are we? When all is said and done, do we really gain anything, cowing to political correctness, by denying and burying what and who we are? 

In Mark 8:36, Jesus speaks to the crowd. “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Later in the passage, Jesus has some strong words for Christian men and women who live in silence before the world. 

In her conference on being Set Apart, respected Christian speaker and Life Coach, Kathy Cordell, talks about living our lives in the tension of grace and truth in a culture that can often be hostile to Christians. But how do we live in that tension of grace and truth during a season when we are pulled apart, sometimes by polar opposite beliefs?

Perhaps the answer lies in understanding that what we believe about our world is not a political issue but a moral one. Jesus did not come to take political sides. He made that very clear. He came, because God so loved the world. The Jewish people of his day saw him as a political figure to save them from Rome, but Jesus said he came to save their souls. Because he would not accept the role they tried to force on him, one by one the people abandoned him to die on a cross.  

In another way, we recognize that we have a lot in common with our non-believing friends. The Bible is very clear on this, too. We have all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). There is none righteous (Isaiah 64:6).  In that we would judge our neighbors, we also condemn ourselves. All are guilty of sin. Therefore Jesus is not my political guru, he is the Savior of my soul. He came to die and rise again on the cross to save me from sin’s curse on my soul.

We also understand that we do not live in a perfect world, but we do live in a democracy where there are many competing perspectives about how to resolve complicated issues. Not everyone will agree with our point of view. But do not "repay evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people (1 Thes. 5:15). 

Still, if we truly believe Jesus is the Savior of our souls, then what we believe about God’s saving grace in our lives should affect our conscience, and if our conscience, then also our convictions, and if our convictions, then also our political views. To say nothing is complicit with a belief system that does not share what we believe about the world and should convict us of being duplicitous about what we believe and who we are. 

How then do Christians live in the tension of grace and truth during the political season? We recognize that God’s love covers a multitude of sins—all our sins. It’s not our place to be arrogant or boastful. We grapple with complicated issues in a reasoned manner, respecting our fellow citizens and also recognizing some things are beyond our scope to resolve easily. Yet we cannot stay silent on those things in which we have been convicted or we may find that we have exchanged the world for our souls. It's not just a political issue, it's an eternal one.